Together for Rivers

New interactive map reveals the truth about sewage pollution

Emily Cooper


Yesterday, the Guardian revealed that water firms discharged raw sewage into England's rivers 200,000 times in 2019.

Michelle Walker, our Head of GIS, described the data as “very alarming”. She said: “When you look at the detail, you see that some of these locations are releasing untreated sewage hundreds of times a year, so they are not just operating during extreme rainstorms...People think our rivers should be fit to swim in but they don’t realise it is legal to discharge untreated raw sewage into our rivers.”

This breaking news story highlights the importance of our new campaign, Together for Rivers. We're fighting to see the first designated bathing waters introduced to well-used rivers in the UK. This would not only protect river users from pollution, but also ensure that the rivers in question are held to higher standards of cleanliness—enabling flora and fauna to thrive.

As part of the Together for Rivers campaign, we have released an interactive map which aims to help shed the light on the reality of sewage pollution. As well as showing the location of sewage overflows, the map details the duration for which these overflows were actively discharging sewage into rivers over the last year.

This map only includes data from sewage overflows which are currently being monitored, so the actual scale of pollution is likely to be even more shocking. In order to make the case for designated bathing rivers, we need to create a strong set of data through a national monitoring scheme. Your donation will help to support the implementation of this scheme, helping to drive forward change for these precious ecosystems.

Visit the Together for Rivers campaign page for more information.

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